tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 28, 2014 10:30am-12:31pm EDT
blamed for a lot of things by the majority leader has decided that this is one of those cases they put the bill on april 9 on the floor under a procedure where it's generally left for noncontroversial items so as a part of that process you have to give two thirds of them voting to approve it. this bill got the majority but it didn't reach the two thirds. it was a miscalculation on the part of republicans said they are coming back to put it on the regular process and it will pass because it did get a majority vote this time but this is another example of how sometimes you scratch your head wondering who's counting the votes. >> was turned to the senate. during the last week majority leader harry reid said about the minimum wage he said when the senate returns i look forward to the d-day is raising the minimum wage and i hope my republican
colleagues will join us to act on it. are we likely to see any debate clacks >> it is democratic leaders have been promising for months they would bring this to the floor but wednesday's procedural vote is still not expected to advance the bill and that's a good digestion terms of the politics for both sides, the republicans created the democrats voting based on the polls. >> the congressional leadership correspondent for the national journal follow his reporting it nationaljournal.com. >> and other congressional news the "washington post" reports new york congressman michael grimm turned himself in on the band is expected criminal charges.
charges are expected to be released later today. those charges will be related to the ownership of the manhattan restaurant which has the ties to a fund raiser to raise more than 500,000 some of which were allegedly improper. the housthe house will begin tot 2 p.m. for the consideration of a number of noncontroversial bills. the senate will meet at 2 p.m. and begin general speeches and both related to the judicial nominations are set for 5:30. the associated press reports this morning that the white house is saying they are sanctioning government officials and 17 companies with links to vladimir putin's inner circle. they are levied because russia failed to live up with commitments on the international accord and the escalating the crisis in ukraine and in addition to the sanctioned the u.s. is revoking export licenses for the high-technology items that could contribute to the
military capabilities. we will keep right on this for a further update. >> when you are living in a world you don't have monopolies anymore and multiple companies are competing for their options on tv for example, that really doesn't work when they form a monopoly negotiation and so that is one of the reasons they don't have as many options as they could have and by the prices are still going up for your television and vide video servid where they should be going down. there is a lot of competition between the different companies. when you are getting internet access or watching tv it used to be you watch tv or had a cable provider and now there's everything from cell phone companies offering services to satellite companies to just doing it over the internet with everything else like hulu so there are more consumers aware today but that still means of course we need to have an antitrust approach and make sure
there are enough monopoly providers that engage in the activities. >> what we are wanting to do is make sure that they release all of their information in a timely manner. we are going to go through an entire process of reforms this year. we think the agency should be more transparent and focus on what they are doing with spectrum and licensing as the core mission. we don't want them going off into next neutrality to have governments in the internet. we don't want them offering privacy and data security issues those go to the ftc so it's time to narrow the focus and get back to the mission. >> members are considering this session tonight on the communicators at eight eastern on c-span2. a discussion with a team of journalists from the "washington post" and london guardian newspapers that recently won a pulitzer prize for the reporting
on the links give you two weeks in the nsa data on american phone records. in the presentation came during a panel hosted by the "washington post" looking at the nsa surveillance and recent revelations. this is about two hours. >> we are proud of the recognition and especially proud of the coverage. we also recognize of course that there are sharp divisions and opinions about the source of the documents that form the basis of the coverage from edward snowden and also about the controversy that has been intense at times and i expect we will explore all of that here today. awarded the pulitzer along with the addition of the guardian of great britain, the pulitzer board and raised the idea that it served the public interest and that had a reaction of its own. the new yorker magazine and he gave it a sin is and is yesterday endorsing the award wrote this. this was a defining case of the press are invited is supposed to
do. the president was held accountable and he had to answer questions that he would rather not have any when his repl anyow unsatisfying to the public and in some cases rainfalls his administration had to change its policies. congress had to confront its own failures of oversight, private companies had to rethink their obligations to their customers and law enforcement and people had conversations at home and at school and pretty much everywhere about what they themselves would be willing to let the nsa do to them and journalists have had to think about their own obligations to the law, the constitution, the readers and even in the practicf reporting in the age of technical tracking the sources they might expose or make foldable. the representative declared awarding the pulitzer to snowden enablers is a disgrace and suggested that we should be
prosecuted under the espionage act. a reader in a letter that we published last week quoted he was disturbed the paper should be published for disclosing classified information that has resulted in a lessening of the country's security. i don't think the post should be able to wrap itself in the text of the amendment and give itself and in unity at the cost of citizen safety. so much to talk about here and we will talk about how it came to be coming how and why we decided to publish and how we went about our work and how we think about issues of national security in the coverage. certainly national security is an area of focus and that should be no surprise. the government's power to make to interrogate, prosecute and incarcerate, kill range as the greatest powers of all if we are to copy the federal government these are not activities we can
ignore and these are not activities in my view we ca can detebesure to the wishes on whae report. what we don't report or how. when the government asserts national security or whenever the basis for the coverage is classified material on the ground of national security the government has secretly implemented sweeping government policies with profound implications for individual rights and we have an experienced national security staff. this organization relies on their expertise and history of navigating the most sensitive subjects imaginable. we take national security concerns seriously. it is a dangerous world and we know that. reporters communicate regularly with the pentagon, the white house intelligence agencies and private companies. on the nsa documents we spent many hours on each stories into detailed conversations with high-level officials and on many occasions the request of
government officials we withheld information that might disclose very specific sources and methods. we didn't agree to every request of every sort made by the government. had we done so, there would have been no stories whatsoever. the intelligence agencies were opposed to publishing anything at all. what we saw is something that went beyond specific sources and methods as guarded on the national security. the documents revealed the national securitthat thenationas engaging in surveillance and data collection of breathtaking scope and intrusiveness. what had transpired was a dramatic shift towards the state power and against individual rights including privacy with no public knowledge and no public debate. with that i'm going to turn it
over. for the national post focused on telecom policy from internet privacy and social impact of technology on families. she joined the post eight years ago on the mercury news where she was a technical reporter. she began her career as the bureau chief in office and in new york as a financial markets reporter. it's all yours and thanks again all of you for coming. [applause] thank you for the words and support [inaudible] it involves people who are not here at work behind the scenes from the graphics to the designers and editors and reporters and i'm pleased to announce the panel. these reporters that did work on the story.
martin is a pulitzer prize-winning reporter and author. he's a senior fellow. he's one of three journalists that received classified archives. gellman has led to the nsa coverage of the post and is writing a book on the surveillance industrial revolution. he is also being humble in his submission. nakashkima covers issues relating to intelligence, government surveillance and civil liberties and she's written about the nsa and the evolution of cyberpolicy in the u.s. government. she served as a southeast asia correspondent for the "washington post" between 2002 to 2006 and she's reported there on the islamic militant networks on the indian ocean soon on me. since joining she also covered the white house and the virginia
state politics. she grew up in hawaii and attended the university of berkeley. ashkan soltani is to your right hand is aand is an independent r and consultant focused on privacy, security and behavioral economics. understanding the abilities of the commercial and government surveillance is. she served as a technologist for the division of privacy and identity protections as the federal trade commission and also worked as a primary technical consultant for the washington journal what they know an investigative series and is working with the "washington post" on their coverage of the nsa. she also covers privacy, security and surveillance in the digital world. he came to the "washington post" in 1998 and has done stints as a political reporter and correspondent covering africa.
he is also the author of the book tinderbox west spots the epidemic and have a world can finallworld canfinally overcome. thank you for joining us. i would like to start with two minutes from each of you to just talk about what the response has been that you have received the pulitzer prize. this seems very long ago. >> my friends like to send me the stories of what an outrage it is. there are serious criticisms to be made as described and we are not immune from that house was anybody else that we covered and there are people that a number of commentators have said that this was undeserved. there are others who are very
happy for the validation of the idea of the debate and the financial boundaries about what the secret intelligence can do in a democratic society needs to be decided by the people that the government is working for and that information is power and the secret information although very clearly u.s. intelligence cannot operate entirely in the open by any strain of the imagination. its fundamental limits boundaries rules and regulations have to be subject to public debate. >> i don't have much more to add to say that reaction has been generally quite positive from
the civil liberties communities and rather muted from the sources on the intelligence community that overall, i think the general public has been appreciative. from the kind of technical community to the response being the understand technolog the tey and are bringing technical people from the basement to explain things more as we see a lot more of our interactions in the digital media and they respond being able to highlight how those things work and bring them to public debate and mystified how the technology is no different than it was years
ago and a sense of how it impacts your life so we should be able to explain that. that has been kind of a valuable response for me. >> it has been humbling and inspiring realizing you had a small role but it's also been a reminder about how fractured my wife is because i was supposed to coach my son's baseball game tonight but other guys looked at me and said what kind of things? i got a role in the fillets ar - pulitzer it has been fun to share this and understand how much he played tracks in the newspaper and in the rest of your life. >> thanks. i should note there will be plenty of time for questions to have almost 40 minutes and will be available as well.
you should see a package if you would like to ask a question that we may not get too we will continue to ask questions and post answers online. after the panel discussion there will be two people with microphones will be available to -- please raise your hand if you do have a question and to stand up when you are posing your question. tell us a little bit about the development of the story. you've been away from the post for actually a few years when you did receive the documents to the story coming in the next time come in your absence, marty baron was appointed to the editor. i understand you didn't know each other well. what happened to lead the introduction of the story to the post into the decision to carry forward? stomach it's not obvious from the coverage but i'm not a "washington post" employee. i'm on contract after having
worked here for 21 years i left in 2010. win over the course of the first half of 2013, i developed a correspondence with the man i later learned to be edward snowden and i knew there was only one place to the story for me. it was going to require sources and the decades of experiences here in the mutual trust of people i worked with for a long time, but it was a harder risky decision to be made. and the boss is the one guy that i didn't know so i walked into the room and figured out who marty was by process of domination. so those are the lawyers. this must be marty.
and i was asking him to take on risks and put his trust in someone who he's never laid eyes on and a story of the magnitude was going to need a lot of lawyering and careful thoughts about how to balance the risk of disclosure with the big policy decisions before the public and there are going to be hard problems that are journalistic. how do you verify? you have a piece of paper that says it is an nsa document. how do you know any of that is true x. how do you know even if it is authentic but it's accurate? how do i know that he used to be a contractor for the nsa is either of those things. i was asking the paper to devote resources and to accept security
measures they have not had to have before and i was thrilled at the answers that marty understood what h he's getting into. he is very thoughtful about what the decisions would be had with a subsequent steps would be and he embraced it. >> it was a revelation when you explained the fillets are speech in the newsroom some of the resources even on the it side that was involved. can you quickly talk about that? >> there are some things i wouldn't talk about, but we have the ability to protect material for things we didn't think would be disclosed in the said in every story we are holding back certain elements and we are not doing that because someone told us we have to. we are doing that because having
consulted with the government and having thought through the implications, we decided we agree, we should withhold this stuff. and if you're going to hold something back and read it on a network or a hard drive where any actor can come in and take it. so they stepped up their game in terms of the physical and digital security encryption and stuff like that and really want to get into the details. >> what was your role in the coveragand thecoverage as the rr covering the nsa? talk about when you came in with your guiding mission was on the story and about how this coverage has affected its change in the government. >> of the disclosure certainly has had an impact on the policy process and most significantly on the public awareness. i want to make a few observations upfront about how
the landscape has changed from the perspective of the reporter who didn't receive the documents at least not directly and how certainly we are engaged in the debate that is on precedented and that wouldn't have happened for the disclosures. but it isn't for the want of trying by the lawmakers, journalists and others. about the existence of the secret law under the patriot act which the law passed after 9/11. but he was bound by classification rules from going any further from explaining his
discomfort with interpretation. and he and other lawmakers continued over the years to warn about the secret law and journalists, including myself and others tried to pry from the government officials and former officials for some insight into what the secret law under section 215 of the patriot act could be. but they are bound by classification rules. they have families, they have jobs and to no avail the civil liberties groups, the aclu, the electronic foundation that titled lawsuits to try to force government to be more transparent on the law. nothing worked until edward snowden came along and i remember the day well the first
document emerged and it was a court order directing the company to turn over all records to the nsa. we know that isn't just the content of the phone numbers into the duration. you quickly become apparent that this is a program in terms of collecting the data of americans and many of them are law abidi abiding. this is what they had been warning about for so many years and it was quickly followed by more disclosures into stories by bart into ashkan and others come other surveillance programs in the nsa.
it's going over seas collection attempts to gain the communications by breaking into the data center's. from my perspective i started to see that it took the function of edward snowden and the leaks and a degree of transparency from the government. after june 10 of the declassified interest in that progratheprogram and subsequenty thousands of pages of court documents, opinions, compliance reports, a lot of them documents of months earlier officials have been telling me that it was pretty difficult to release because so much of the classified material was intertwined in the legal analysis. the question is a newfound
transparency a permanent change in behavior or as some suspect a tactical shift to the disclosures back one of the smartest observations that i heard came from a former inspector general at the nsa who said the anti-pair of grace, that by withholding the existence of the metadata program, the government may have avoided a war obtained a short-term benefit in terms of not tipping off terrorists that it missed an opportunity to secure a longer-term strategic goal of winning public support which is so important to the intelligence community's activities. >> thanks.
[inaudible] >> so, ashkan you are a technology expert and were wrought on in many ways to help the decode some of the slides. some of them or amateur. it'were amateur.it's interestinf these slides and the public was like really are they part of an nsa slide? i would like to pull up one slide. stick a little drawing in the clouds. >> if i could say one thing i have seen a lot of government power point most of them not classified and one of the things that might be authentic is it is the kind of crowded graphics.
>> here we go. so okay. a ashkan can you walk us through some of these in particular? how does one slide like this lead to the story on october 302013 last year titled infiltrates links to the data centers worldwide ensure that his appearance to you from seeing the slide that is the story. the national security agency has broken into the main communications links that connect yahoo! and google around the world according according to edward snowden and officials. by tapping those links the position is to collect hundreds of millions of accounts many of them belonging to americans. later in the story you see two engineers have close ties exploded with profanity when they saw the drawings. i hope you publish this, one of
them said korea talk a little aboutalks a littleabout how youe of the bar and please chime in as well. >> it's really difficult where the nsa was extremely cryptic and there are secret program names under multiple levels of security and the security and they go to great lengths to classify or hide their operations. on the other hand, there is kind of not obvious that some want a appearance of these are engineers attacking technology that you and i use and so if you are a network architecture or cell phone that works for you know some of these technologies they all look the same if you draw them out.
of the major cloud providers works. there's a point at which the data from a user and the cloud provider, say google, is encrypted and there's internal traffic behind the scenes, behind the door that they handle. that's not encrypted. the assumption being that it's private and so there's no reason to encrypt it. we poked our heads around, tried a bunch of theories, look at architecture diagrams, look at documentation both in terms of what was in the slides as what is publicly available about how this stuff work. it finally clicked. we got a bunch of theirs and it made sense. in fact, they were tapping the cables and private cables between data centers in the cloud. why that was interesting and surprising, and again he would have to think from a hacker network engineer perspective whereby they are given a set of
constraints can legal constraints and technical constraints and they're given a mission to collect data on targets they find interesting. what they did is the exploited kind of a property of the cloud architecture which is if you are here in d.c. and your connecting to the google data center in north carolina or in mountain view, your communications will stay in the u.s. because of the way google architects their networks such that your data is replicated to all of their locations in the world in the event of a power outage on the west coast, they will collect the same data that would be illegal are not available to them domestically. they will be able to connect and access the same data overseas. they essentially find ways to exploit the architecture of the cloud that it's insecure on the backend and redundant and immediately replicated and they collect that data. that became kind of a fun angle. the thing that was most surprising to me and all of this
was not the geek terms and the secret terms but the definitions for words you and i use everyday, words like collected. so under this, these mechanisms, the data isn't actually collected just when his recorder or saved to disk. it's only collected once it's been processed by human or processed by system that kind of analyzes that. again based on the legal definitions and based on these vulnerabilities and computer networks they are able to perform these tasks that would otherwise seem illegal to ask. >> i just will add a couple words about this one. a time when i found this slide is right around the time that i persuaded marty baron to hire ashkan to help figure this stuff out. i see many of you here are lay
people not involved in this will. when you come across that cartoon you can see this got to be a story here. there's a little smiley face that says, it's an encryption. encryption is added and removed here. there's something going on. the reason why engineers we talked to erupted into profanity the family newspaper version of the conversation, is because of the smiley face. the smiley face was a declaration of victory. it was the spiking of the football in the face of the company engineers. we found a way around your security. ashkan and i, took, it was either five or six weeks to figure out what that cartoon meant. first of all it was an illustration taken from a document called google clout exploitation. we had the illustration but we didn't have the document. there were lots of times when there will be a slight and a powerpoint that is taken from
some of the thing which will clearly and to all the questions you have but you don't have that other thing. you're trying to put pieces together. what it means to say is that they're removing encryption. are they stealing the certificates from the companies? have it figured out a way to break encryption, deciphers or standards of the world thinks is secure? are they spoofing them? are they pretending to be google when you connect to them? we tried and discarded a bunch of different theories and we're not going to get the edge within the four corners of that one document or even in a combination of documents. we had to get out in the world which is what the post does, to report on all sources but it was wasn't until we interview people who were intimately familiar with the architecture of these systems and then run that through our computers with ashkan that we figured out what was happening.
>> you know, this was a real moment for the tech industry as well, craig, and response they had to this. this particular story. can you talk a little bit about the evolution of the tech industry's response to all these stores? we were talking to them in the beginning. what a you talk about? we don't know what you're talking about, a real roller coaster. >> my role in this was a little different to i worked for the financial stuff so i did some surveillance reporting but my main responsibility arguing was keeping an eye on google and facebook and yahoo! and what did you. i was the recipient of some very unhappy phone calls a day after -- prism is the first prism story, the story barth did that made clear that government had access to all the private data that the cubbies were collecting for other purposes. let me tell you, the companies were really, really mad --
companies were collecting. it took a while to figure out exactly what this juncture was. but what i watched happened over the course frankly of months was the industry gradually realized they had been had. they knew about some of information that was being transferred and how but i think it's clear a lot of it was happening through court procedures that were secret to us but not a secret to them. i could remember exactly the story they were just talking about, about the google and yahoo! datalinks being tapped into overseas, and suddenly everybody in the tech industry at once said uh-oh. they did know intelligence services had wired into the brains. they started in mad at us and eventually they were really mad at the u.s. government for both because they felt, they felt as though their place in the world had been jeopardized. you use google services, you
imagine it's private, kind of private. it hurt them economically from industry point of view to be seen as somehow a conduit to the u.s. intelligence services, but it also, there was a visceral quality. they really felt betrayed on a felt like personal level, that they had built th these systems, they're supposed to resist hackers and yet you had these uber hackers and u.s. government who were breaking into it and find every way possible, and in ways that were frankly often imagined. they were good at this. and companies working by the time we got towards the end of the year companies were thanking us but they're saying we're really glad. we know that in whole bunch of new encryption measures. we don't know and we may never know if they are sufficient but it's clear the defenses are a lot stronger now on a corporate level and where was all this weekend. >> talking about some of the biggest american companies not
on technology companies but american companies spending a lot of money and engineering talent in a deliberate effort to thwart the efforts of their own government to spy on their users. on the one hand, you can say that their philosophy is nobody gets to spy on our users but us. but this is a big moment. they are not trying to stop the government from doing any kind of targeted surveillance. even if what they're doing is perfectly effective by encrypting their internal links. the government can still go to them and get information about any individual target. another way to say is the nsa most available to spy on anyone but it will not be up to spy on everyone. >> one of the big differences between the prism story and the data links story between google and yahoo! is the prism, the
company knew, they did know the codename prism but they were over a lease their national security people were aware of the program and they were under court orders to comply. this is the result of a program that had been debated for years on the hill. culminated the passage of the ice and act section 702. but with this data centers stories they were completely taken by surprise. they felt betrayed. this was not the result of any public debate. there was no fisa debate over whether the nsa could or should gain access to the links between the data centers. that was taking place entirely outside the domestic surveillance law we have under presidential authority exclusively. that is actually an issue that i think deserves a lot more
exploration because what we are seeing, one of the big benefits of the snowden disclosure over the last year is this heightened awareness of the nature of government surveillance. since 9/11, and as a result of advances in technology, we have seen a fundamental shift in approach moving from individualized warrants and other protections at the front and, to vast collection with limits on use at the back end. and at the same time there is this, because of the global nature of the networks, the communications of people like you and me are mixed in with communications of terrorists and legitimate foreign targets. so as a former directive of the nsa said, today there is no home game. there is no away game. there is just one game.
and that raises questions of whether not those back and protections sufficiently protect our privacy. >> and, of course, the companies have much to lose reputation only. you want to add one thing? >> a key point, which is one additional thing that disclosures kind of helped motivate is investment in security both on the backend and the front end. so secure the experts have been warning about the ability to collect data that's not encrypted for years. there is a personal vendetta to get yahoo!, for example, to encrypt their e-mail communications for a number of years. earlier story we did prior to the muscular story was about how the nsa was collecting address books of public internet connections. one the company, they were -- the number of address books
collected a day, it was like 500,000 a day, and one company was 10 times kind of, at 10 times more kind of address books collected and the other. in our conversation they wanted to comment on the record, conversations, why are we being targeted out? the obvious answer was that you guys have foregone security tools. you don't build security into your product. this is why. the disclosures made it very clear and made that very standing and tractable. rather than give us a response, a statement, the statement was we're going to begin encrypting our yahoo! mail starting at the end or the beginning of this year, the end of last year. >> in one line? in the front row here, let a large campaign of activism and technology to get yahoo! to scramble its connections from
their computers to yours. for years, and this was to protect among other things against ordinary hackers. because we don't encrypt then it's your credit card data, your e-mail, all this does include text over the web, anybody can read it. and for four plus years now who said no, don't think so. on the day that the muscular story ran yahoo! announced that it would encrypt all connections to users by the fall. >> barred -- [applause] >> that's correct. >> bart, the question clearly that we have the most and that we got through messages ahead of this event was how did you come and the editors, marty baron, kevin and others, et cetera, how did you by national security concerns with the public service of uncovering the sweeping government surveillance programs?
what is the post, the right to publish stories about the classified government materials? even just friday to "new york times" columnist was asked about the pulitzer the guardian we see. he said the press coverage and whether it deserves recognition i have complicated uzbek i'm a little nervous by the fact that they really did benefit from what i think is a repellent unpatriotic act. the questions that you the post by tony, if you're here, can you please explain why this important work of journalism does not negatively impact national security? what is your response to tony and maybe even david brooks? >> there's a lot of pieces to that. i think anyone in you wants to ask that should ask it again, less politely. we'll try to get it in pieces at different times. a lot of people have this reaction, it's classified, it's secret. that's the end of the discussion. don't put it in the paper.
well, there is now -- you to understand what that would mean. there's no bilateral estimates more classified information, classified by the u.s. government banned the entire contents of the library of congress and all other open libraries in the world. there is more classified and unclassified data in the world. i have a classified navy laundry menu. i'm not making this up. there is nobody -- even the strongest defenders of national security disciplines, i've never met anyone who would not say that there's massive overclassification. that's one thing. the second is that having covered diplomacy and military affairs and intelligence matters for a long time, i can tell you it's only a little bit exaggerated to say that almost everything i want to know, every story, could be classified somewhere. by the way, i think i could that
have my stories as an appendix publish stories with classified stamps on them. also not making that up. the problem is that company, all bureaucracy wants to control information. but when you're working in the secret world you have this mechanism, this has to deal with stand. almost everything that has to do with our relations with the world for our military threats or intelligence matters, even policies that is not testified in congress, not in a press release that is not in this conference is classified. we simply couldn't cover some of the biggest expenditures that the country makes, the hardest decisions, the ones that involve the greatest risk and that allow us to hold accountable our leaders for the way that they use their power. you just have to cut out -- they would be big blank spots in the paper. snowden leaks are too generous.
there's nothing like it but we've had stories, thousands of stories in the time i worked at the "washington post" that touched on something classified. we can't let the stamp itself be the sole decider. we have to try to weigh what are the stakes are? there are stories we've killed over the years, even consider publishing. there's lots, there's an archive we didn't consider publishing. that was my first conversation with the director of national intelligence office on the first document but just we know everything between pages 17-24 were not considered because it's specific, operational but it reveals targets, specific techniques. the publication of which would end of them. they would no longer be useful at all. what we want to do is write about the stories that describe big public policy decisions, like the ones we have talked about before. for example, is it okay, do we
think as a society it's a good idea to allow u.s. intelligence services to collect overseas where no statutory laws apply, where there's a sticker core, no fisa court overseas it, where congressional intelligence committees don't get reports are supervised activity, is it okay for them to break into data centers or the links between them? although they're not targeting americans, the specific usage for language, they're not targeting us. incidentally, they are collecting substantively all of our, they are at least passing through the collection systems almost all of the content of the internet. what action was trying to explain before was that google, yahoo!, summary of the biggest companies, they have these giant fortress facilities all over the
world. they've got biometric locks and guards and walls and fences and they look like giant factories filled with computer servers are there's one in ireland and one in hong kong, singapore, as well as a bunch of them on the north american continent. they are synchronized. if you sit on the cable that synchronizes these two data centers it's the same thing as if you just reach into the data center itself in terms of what you get. so i it's okay with us to say te nsa will collect at will from all of our communications in the service of its foreign intelligence mission. seems like that's a big public policy question that needs to be debated. those are the stories we're looking to do. >> ashkan, did you want to add to that? >> just a touch on a public policy perspective, there's also this disconnect between again as i said earlier definition. so what the public would believe to be implied when you say
collect and what the government means when they say collect are two different things. we did this story on collection of an entire country's phone calls, recording of an entire country's phone calls for 30 days. one of the core attitudes of that story was that it is not collected until it's actually processed. it would be like i could record this, our conversation to any of you, but it's not recorded, collected -- >> and it's not surveillance. >> until you listen to. those othe are the things, so ik the public realizes without the definition, i think a lot of people would push back and say no, that's not actually what we thought we were approving. and we saw this with a number of the comments from senators and policymakers that approved of these programs. a lot of the comments and commentary was we didn't realize we were approving that.
and what the end run was around definitions or on technical capabilities that the nsa kind of loophole the nsa would use to kind of engaged in a particular practice that people were aware of. i think that's the value in reporting it. >> the story pashtun community when she was published last montmonth but it's going nsa surveillance program reached into the past to retrieve and replace phone calls. that was just last month. why are we still sing the stories today? and the real i ask is there's the impression that, there's a question actually as of the documents were received. wasn't one big dump? is snowden still involved in the process? if you still releasing information? a question many people have come is he calling the shots on some of the releases and the editorial decisions and? >> i guess i should be the one to address that. snowden gave me the documents
late last spring. he has not handed over any documents to anyone since approach with that time period. he did not even carry them with him when he left hong kong, when he thought he was transiting russia but it's been a long transit. he does not try to direct, suggest, hint at what should be written and when he gave, he gave, his a general agreement that i made with them, which didn't require an agreement because it's what i would have done anyway, is to look through the material and weigh it carefully. not dump high volumes of it out there, to consider what the ballots ought to be. one other quick element, we will get into it later if you want to, we at the "washington post" on not sitting in our armchairs making up thoughts about what would be harmful to security and what would not. in fact, we are usually pretty good at anticipate what the
government will be worried about, we consult with government on every single store and every fact in every story. they have the opportunity to tell us this might look innocuous to you, like it's not. sometimes they will tell us what. sometimes they will tell us things we don't know in order to help explain to us why they believe we shouldn't publish something that we do know. those conversations are very successful. there's kind of a good enough outcome on both sides where maybe they will say this whole thing should be, you should mention that all. i will say there's a huge public policy question in that, but i don't need to do this or that if that something, or that's not especially relevant to the point i think the public needs to know about. the point is, we don't just guess what would be a security hard. we hear from the us government very directly and exactly what they think would be a security
harm. and a number of times when we publish something after getting those kind of concrete arguments is tiny. >> south beach but it is your question snow does not continue to dribble out doctors. he did not attempt to control the coverage or the pace of the cubs. the reasons for us to come out is there's a lot of material and were not casual about putting it on the public record. for sure we could go through this material a lot faster if i said, let's just dump the whole thing on the internet. will crowd sourcing. the whole world will help us understand what it means. it would be faster if i say, let's take the 50 people in the newsroom to know the most about this kind of stuff, let's give them all free access to the whole archive and we'll put our heads together. the stories would come up faster but because there's so much material in there, we have much more control than that. >> is there much left?
>> there is more. >> this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how the revelations affect government, as well as the discovery of more consumer surveillance efforts and that something craig, you've worked on. can you talk about how this has expanded our thinking about even private sector for-profit surveillance efforts in which a covert? >> that's a good question. i had covert surveillance on and off for your so when all this broke loose, and they used to debate with other people, like should really care more about what google and yahoo! are doing or should we care more about what the nsa or the justice department are doing? pretty soon after all this stuff came to light, it dawned on me that the distinctive is not all that meaningful because everything that google and yahoo! and facebook is collecting, the nsa is eventually getting hands on. certainly they can get their hands on it. the consumer stuff and the
government stuff really blend together to a degree that i don't think any of us fully appreciated until these documents came out. is interesting what we've seen. there's been such a focus over the past 11 months on the nsa collection because of these amazing stories that there has been a little less focus on consumer connection, gmail, they serve ads based on what is in your stuff a whole host of issues, should you post pictures of the kids on facebook? all of these issues i feel more and more prominent part of the conversation and what i was doing, and with all been shifted over to try to make sense of what we've learned about the innocent with the u.s. government is doing. but i do think that the time is approaching where we will have to wrestle with these questions about what are we all voluntarily, or voluntarily giving up to these companies to get free services we all want? how much data is on our
smartphones? every once in a while i said that if they do everything that's on my iphone. it is scary. i don't have a huge number of secrets, but the precision about me and my life and my family and my friends that are encoded in the location data, e-mails and facebook postings, it's really stunning. i do think, i'd like to think anyway that there's a moment coming when the conversation welcome back to life. where we will have, we will be reengaged on the question of how much is too much to be out there and in the cloud that anybody has access to. >> ellen, how about your thoughts on surveillance even beyond the nsa in terms of u.s. government? what are you exploring and what are the areas you see other ever surveillance? there's always the debate and disclosure over the past year. we've also heard that the bulk collection extends beyond the nsa.
that the cia has also engaged in bulk collection of money transfers, and, unfortunately, we do not have a lot of disclosure about the protections and rules for that. other than it's done under section 215. you asked earlier about what's changed. i wanted to say that it's not just been all talk over the last year. wind section 215 telephone metadata program was first revealed in june of last year, president obama you may recall came out and defended the program and said he believed it was legal, it was effective, was subject to rigorous oversight. and intelligence insiders i spoke to said they felt fairly confident he was going to continue to back them in that
program. then the debate just took off and we started to see opinions move in july of last year. the house fell 12 votes a shot of into the program. in the fall a federal judge in d.c. ruled that the program was probably unconstitutional. and in december the president's own surveillance review board concluded that the program has -- by january this year obama was ordering his subordinates to come up with a way to end the program as it currently exists. that's concrete results of the disclosure leading to debate, leading to a policy change. and there have been others. >> k. each of you briefly talk a little about about how every
person, every consumer, everybody in this room, how does this affect you? how do these revelations affect you? how should you think about this? as i've been reading this story, outrageous innocent or what have you, what should they be thinking about and take away from this coverage of? >> i truly don't want to tell people what they should think i'll tell you what i think some the things we put on the table are. we are vaguely aware as a society that there's a lot of information about us out there, that we just leave this digital exhaust, but we think of ourselves as sort of often on the one hand, sort of normal and uninteresting. why would they be bothering with me? or we are basically good people, we don't have anything special died, or so what if somebody sees my kids birthday party
picture? and i think the more you learn about how much is know about us, how closely we are tracked, the more most people i talk to start to feel a little bit squeamish. i'll give you a quick example. there's a guy -- i live and work printed in new york to a guy in the office there who thought he didn't care about this sort of stuff, that he wasn't worried about digital privacy. all things i just said to you. so he uses twitter a lot. post a lot. yet locations broadcast turned on on a sweater again. there's little to online you can download called creepy your and i downloaded it and i pointed it at his twitter account and i got three months worth of date and time stamped locations for this guy. i uploaded it to google maps. i made it a private matter so you can't go look at it.
and i spent about one hour playing around with a look at it and i went in and i said okay, months of your life. we know you work here. here's where you live. here's where the kids go to school. here's we go once a week i'm not even asking. there's your in-laws, telephone, and bowyer up late that night. and he went straight to his twitter account and only did all the locations which twitter unfortunate allows you to do. i said that's great, but twitter still those. twitter can still sell that and monetize that data and this is 1% of 1% of what all these companies you use everyday know about you. >> so that's a great case for being much more discreet online. i'll speak a little to the institution, i cover the nsa. it's taken a beating over the
last year, and morale has dropped tremendously. i know there's, it's the temptation to demonize them but i was struck by a post written by geoff stone who is a card-carrying member of the aclu on their advisory board, and is one of the members of the presidents white house advisory surveillance review panel. same one that said the 215 program was not essential for preventing diversion. he said that over the months that he and other members of the panel spent interviewing intelligence community members and giving to know the nsa, he came to the conclusion that the nsa employees, officials were well-intentioned, did not come to work everyday wondering
welcome whose privacy cannot violate today? but they had made mistakes. he said he felt they deserved americans respect, but not their trust. he said, we should never ever trust the nsa. because the distrust is essential to the foundation of democracy and holding people accountable. i thought that was a very interesting, you know, observation from this member of the panel. i think it's worth thinking about in terms of the public, and to really try to understand the issues that are at stake, and not try to personalize or demonize or in cute ill intent to any -- but to understand
where it's coming from, what the issues are at stake and to hold them accountable, as accountable as we can. that's our job. >> ashkan? >> both of those, to combine them or bring them together, i see essentially kind of three things to consider that kind of we are expensing. one is as i mentioned we leave data exhaust everywhere. is no practical way to use technology today and not leave a digital trail of some sort. there's obscurity tools you can try but even those are foldable and essentially every interaction you engage in by e-mail, by just carrying a cell phone, by driving a car now or walking industry with cameras leaves some sort of digital trail. that's one. number two, we essentially as result of these digital trails and in a network so slightly,
collection of the state becomes incredibly cheap. if i wanted to surveil you i would have to allocate men and people to follow you around or to take notes, take photographs of you. it's gotten incredibly cheap because these digital trails exist. when you search on google, when you use twitter, when used services they created, a trail that the nsa or some other government from across the world and also monitor and collect or some company. and three, the thing that ethics is most with regard to nsa, the mandate they have been given is not to reduce terrorist attacks or to kind of keep 9/11 attacks to one in every 10 years. all costs event attacks on u.s. soil. and so these three factors, affected it is not ever come is incredibly cheap to collect and the mission, once legally
prohibited from do best to prevent all attacks but those three things in tandem create an invite or even if you are not that interesting, the likelihood that you might get swept up into some sort of system because of the mandate, because of the cheapness of which can be trusted and because of the prevalence of your data has got up and that's something we have to contend with. the only thing restriction that are legal forces, legal restrictirestricti ons. that's kind of world we are in now. >> it's har hard to top all of . that strikes me as bad on. i will say that it struck me throughout this how surprised loss of people were. i was surprised by the detail of it but like google was really surprised and u.s. senators were really frightened to u.s. senators on the intelligence committee in some cases seemed kind of surprised. it just makes you wonder how it's possible in a democracy such as ours, are what we
imagine our democracy to be, that's something that surveillance is so sweeping a powerful could grow to become as robust as it clear he has become. without all sorts of important people doing it and having some sort of say in whether it's a good thing or bad thing or what the natural limits of it were. if we had this been a year ago, think about what we knew about what our government was collecting about people all over the world and whether not we were targeted and intentionally all of us. i have to say, i find that a little unnerving asked about how little we knew before that. whether you think we were right or wrong to publish this particular set of documents, you know, i do sort of feel like it is the inherent function of the democracy to place these issues in the public sphere so as
citizens we can wrestle with it and come to some of more enlightened decisions on what the limits are. maybe people don't want more limits, but i get the sense of people do. there's no possibility of that if we don't know enough to even imagine where one might draw these lines. it wasn't an accident that we didn't know. and it's not, there are no evil motives at all but the were very deliberate effort to mislead us when anybody got any where near the trail. okay, so the program which collects all the records of all the phone calls that all of you make, that's what's been referred to as section 215. it's a provision of the patriot act. it had been a controversial, not because anybody have any idea about this. people were with the fbi would use to get to people's library records and what books people were checking a. for a long time ago but said even the number of times we use
this provision of law is classified and would do grave harm to national security if we told you how may times we used to. that was the position for several years. eventually they were mandated by congress to disclose the number of times. there's nothing to about, section 215, they said they only used it i think they said 29 times. so what's the big deal? we used it 29 times. it turned out in 12 of those times you could get a trillion phone records. so that's not an accident. that's a deliberate effort to distort a public debate because i think what they're doing is important to their worried you might ask them to stop so they don't tell you. >> i have a self-promotion area. do you know who wasn't surprised, the security geeks. for a long time warned look, this technology makes it possible that these systems are vulnerable, that you can essentially get people's phone records by hacking into another
telco remotely. so they warned a lot of these things and they think given us known was a security guide and he saw quite a bit of these tools and the countryside to highlight them, i think that indicates not just a deliberate misleading, but this technical misleading where a technical committee and can use their prowess and understand technology and loopholes and the way the systems work to skirt around public perceptions because people don't know. people don't realize. i think that's another gap that needs to be informed. >> i just want to add to that, there were people who knew. senate intelligence committee, judiciary, house and senate, the fisa court, justice department, executive branch agencies. the problem is these committees and the court were all sworn to secrecy. they couldn't disclose anything
publicly, so if there oversight conducted entirely in secret, how does that aid public understanding and enable us to hold the government accountable? i think that's the crux in part of this issue, and one that we still have a really good answer for. you create another independent oversight board? is that boards want to secrecy? what's the point? >> clearly this is about so much debate and so much we could talk about summit of areas and recover a lot of graduate this is your chance now, please raise your hand and we have t. people here on each side, who will come with their hands raised. you can stand please. stand please when you ask a question, and if you have one directed straight for one of the panelists, please ask binding. we also have marty baron here as
well. [inaudible] >> sorry, the mic is not on. >> can you hear me now? >> go ahead. >> i actually have three questions. i guess they are all for barton gellman. one is, do you wear a bow to safety because of what you know, either from terrorists because they know you have all this information, or from nsa? second question is, what do you think should happen to mr. snowden? and the third one is, do you and reporters at the guardian consult with one another? how do i want to divulge in terms of security issues? >> no, i don't fear for my personal safety.
i worry a lot that, i have good evidence that there are actors, usually unknown, were trying to get into my material digitally. i mean, i cannot feel my entire life off of the internet and put something on the network and somebody topic and into. i don't put secret stuff there. but i got a warning from google that a state sponsored hacker was attempted to cover cover my's computer and my account. google then won't tell you who's doing it on what you can do about how they know. i've had a number of other fairly specific indicators that people are coming after my stuff. that is different from physical security. you can say you told me so if i disappear one day but i'm not worrying about that.
what should happen to snowden is, i'm the last person you should ask her type of relationship with him of reporter to source. i'm not his judge, and there's a lot more people with a lot more interesting things to say and i have about that. and no, we do not consult with any other news organizations about what to publish when, what to hold back. i have made those decisions independently. that includes not through any third parties, there's no sort of secret counsel. and essentially we are competitors with them. >> next. >> i find that the average person a lot of times gauges what side of the debate there on depending on whether they were supporting bush or obama. you know, it's who do you trust
to have that information and what they're going to do with it. and whether they trust them as the deciders or you as the deciders of what's going to be divulged. i think back over, like for instance, the whole debate over torture. and that it was finally disclosed that it really wasn't that effective over the period and i'm wondering whether ultimately is this nsa gathering of information effective in protecting this country? how they really forwarded -- thwarted some attacks or plans for that, and how does that way into the decisions that are being made? >> so what has been the practical benefit of the nsa
program for the nsa perspective? does anybody want to tackle that? >> we can both talk about it. certainly there's been a lot of debate about the effectiveness of the two major domestic surveillance programs that have been discussed. section 215 telephone records program and section 702 of the fisa, part of which is called prism which bart wrote about, and the heads of innocent last year on the hill initially came out and said that the programs contributed to awarding over -- forwarding over 50 attacks, terrorist attacks. and when senators, including ron wyden pushed back on that, eventually he and other intelligence officials clarified okay, well, you know, 702
present was responsible for thwarting most of those, but a lot of them were overseas. section 215, the telephone metadata program which obama says he wants to end, boca collection, was responsible, or would've had a role in maybe only 12 of those domestically. and of those, maybe only one in which it actually yielded some information that was useful to a terrorist investigation, and that one case involved a san diego cabdriver convicted of material support to terrorism for sending $6500 to someone in somalia, al-shabaab, which did not involve an attack on the u.s. at all, the homeland coordinate attacks was ever carried out, which led not only to surveillance review board to conclude that the program was not essential to preventing
terrorist attacks, but also the privacy and civil liberties oversight board to say that had not contributed one case to preventing any terrorist attack on homeland. >> just another quick few words. clearly from time to time the government is going to exaggerate the importance of a program that it's trying to defend. on the other hand, having spent lots of time with material and done lots of interviews, how sad would it be if they were spending $109 a year, 3000 people in on some of the greatest talents in the world, mathematical and computer science and linguistic and all sorts of other things and accomplished nothing? that's clearly not the case. they find out a lot of information that is essential to our security. there are a lot of things in the files that i would guess almost all of you, if you knew them,
would say wow, i did know they could do that. glad they did it. that seems like a legitimate operation. and if i publish it you would say, i wished you hadn't done that because now they can't do it anymore. the art success stories in the documents. the problem is there exactly the kinds of things the government least wants me to write because they couldn't be replicated afterwards. but the point you made about bush and obama, actually that isn't issue of trust, is snowden's own fundamental point, which is that even if you're prepared to accept that the people who have this enormous power right now are responsible, you also expecting the people and ask people at that will have the same or more power. we have plenty of samples in this country a very serious abuses of a specific kind of power problem. j. edgar hoover, one of the
articles of impeachment against nixon was domestic surveillance, and i've seen documents that have now been declassified at their decades and decades old, experiments, drug experiments to these experience on human subjects, deliberate exposure of american service people to radiation and stamped highly classified that will specifically said in a this would create problems for us either in law or public opinion if people found out we are exposing our soldiers to radiation. you don't want to give the sole power to anyone to decide what we can know. >> i don't want to leave the miss reputation but section 702 that you may have heard as the wireless wiretapping program that broke in 2005 in "the new york times." but then the subsequent we put under statutes by congress. and that program so has come is
considered quite successful and useful. in bart's report, one of your documents with someone i think it said it contributes, the bulk of the presidency daily brief for a majority of the intelligence that goes into -- >> more than any other single source. >> so it does, there is some utility. >> one last point on this issue of trust, i think bart is correct in the issue of trust. future administrations but even the trust with other nationstates are other actors or other kind of those with malicious intent. so in addition to collection, just the mere collection of the data we have learned the nsa, has weakened standards for computer security or does not disclose to companies when their systems are vulnerable. so the fact and if they can exploit data center links
between google, overseas, means that of the pictures can also do that. the fact that the government has chosen not to disclose that or not to secure those but instead take advantage, collect that data. one of the questions asked is, is it effective? but at what cost? at what cost to our national security, our infrastructure, our safety. >> let's take another question over there. over here. and don't forget you do have a card we can write a question and we will answer it later online. >> my question involves, we learned this week that general clapper has issued a new directive that makes it unacceptable for any member of the intelligence establishment to talk to any reporter about anything that is either classified or unclassified, and
under pain of being fired or impossible even prosecuted. and my question is, number one, have they learned anything? it seems like all the want to do is make it harder to leak. and number two, does this have a chilling effect on your ability to cover the news? cover this national security. >> anyone, please take it up. >> when i saw that order i thought come into, really? trying it again. i mean, we see these periodically, and after this a big story, video leak investigation there's a crackdown, more polygraphs come here proud they will be doing polygraphs unannounced on people and i've had sources tell me they have to report any time they get a call from the press, including me, things like that.
i think these things go in ways. it does have a somewhat of a chilling effect. it reminds people that they're being watched. they shouldn't talk to the press but i think ultimately it's futile. >> i may be more concerned about it then you are. i certainly take your points, but here's what the order says. if you were anywhere in any of the 15 intelligence agencies, you may not speak to a member of the press, or buy liquor anyone whose job involves disclosure to the public so that would involve a number of lawyers and so on. about anything related to intelligence, whether or not it's classified and that if you do, then you will probably hoosier job and your security clearance. so lots of organizations, eithei
think even the "washington post" would frown upon its employees speaking for the company or after disclosing the internals of the company and ice was you could even do it that you get yourself fired. but what the post can't do is a death penalty your career to our 4.1 million jobs in this country that require a classified clearance. across the government, 4.1 million. so if you run into me at the promotion ceremony of some general and as a cocktail party and we talk about what's happening in crimea these days, purely unclassified conversation, and you don't log that and report it, then you could lose your ability to work anywhere in your chosen field. i think that may end up being a pretty significant deterrent and a real shame because a lot of the context and the richest of
the stories that you get from the reporters that you admire, suppose there's any you like reading, that a lot of what they know, a lot of the ability to tell you the story relies on informal nonclassified background conversations about the way things work in the world. >> and the officials, the savvy ones, understand that and that's why think they've been rather feel to it is self-defeating because the smart officials know that the better informed we are as reporters, the better informed our coverage will be. it ultimately rebounds to the data, to their benefit, to give us as much of understanding their perspective on the issues. and that comes through, as bart said, sort of informal context, just relationship of trust built up over the years. you can't do that just by going in the front door every day and
requesting an interview through the public affairs office, which is staffed by well-meaning people but they cycle through. >> people don't often know there's a vast number of conversations behind even one paragraph that not even a quote. let's take another question. >> i'd like to panel to comment, isn't our security system fundamentally flawed that someone this young at this low level in the government could release this amount of materials, is a massive amount of materials? doesn't he mean our secure the system is fundamentally flawed? i'd like to panel to comment on that. >> i'll try to be brief so we can get tw to more questions. for sure it didn't work the way they wanted it to work. you wouldn't want to see sort of an open sale in every secret in
government. as i said we don't think everything should be published. there are huge problems and sort of, these are giant institutions. there are trade-offs. if you batten down the hatches securely that there is next to no possibility of a breach like this, it means that lots of people around the government are not going to no information exists that's vital to their job. ..
>> at what point did you realize or start to believe this was the story you needed to tell, and at any point did you doubt that belief? >> that's a good one for you too, barb. >> i had lots of doubts. anybody who tells you that it's obvious where to draw the line on what should be published or what shouldn't, i would strongly disagree with. so i worry all the time about where to draw i the line. i don't worry that i've made a mistake or the post has made a mistake by deciding to put resources and attention and time and space into this subject. i don't worry at all that we shouldn't have touched the story at all. i thought from the beginning that it was going to be very significant and important and also really, really hard to -- really, really hard. [inaudible conversations] >> yes. i commend you very much for your work in dealing with the difficult question of where someone has provided you with
unauthorized information and you've done a marvelous job in responding to that. my concern is with a different situation where citizens who have lawfully attempted to call attention to major issues are not getting attention by the press. i refer specifically to the fact that in 1992 congress unanimously passed a law requiring the disclosure of jfk assassination records. thousands of pages of jfk assassination records still remain withheld by the national archives acting at the behest of cia. does it require an edward snowden to get public attention focused on the release of those records? i add that in 19 -- in 2013 i on behalf of a number of prominent citizens including the former chief counsel of the house
select committee on asaws nations -- assassinations wrote a letter to "the washington post" about this. the letter was not even acknowledged. >> sir, we're going to try to keep this pretty focused on the nsa project that our panel worked on. so do you have a question specifically related to this? >> [inaudible] does it take an edward snowden to get this stuff out? >> i'm sorry, it's not a subject i have any expertise on. >> i'm going to take a question from the middle. i think you guys are getting neglected over here. right here. oh, no, i'm sorry. right here. >> we get a mic into the center aisle, please? >> we've got somebody who stood up. okay. >> if you could expand a bit on your publish or not publish decisions, particularly focusing on the issue of revealing
sources and methods. i looked at that cartoon of muscular, and it seemed to me as though that drove right to the focus of revealing sources and methods. so i'm curious about your decision process. >> yeah. that's a, it's a plausible surmise to make from looking at the cloud or at the drawing for a layperson. but respectfully, sir, nobody who is involved in intelligence gathering or telecommunications networking would think that that drawing itself or the idea that there are places on the internet that are encrypted and places where it's not, no one would think that that's revealing anything to an enemy that the enemy doesn't know. i mean, anybody who works in that field, that's fairly elementary. the clue was toward what they were doing, and there are lots
of things that i actually thought were highly sensitive because i'm a layperson too, and i would hook at that and say, well -- look at that and say, well, i had no idea that was possible. and i realized as we proceeded through. and in consultation with the government that it's not actually very sensitive at all. and then there would occasionally be things where it didn't strike me at all that they would be worried about, and then they would explain to me why. so sources and methods, look, the reason we withheld an elementary fact from our last story on the, on the fsa's -- nsa's ability and practice of recording every single call in an entire country is not just to avoid alerting the country about being a target, but it had to do with specific operational surmises that might be made by others if they knew which country it was. and i can't actually get into even most of the reasons. but we were very concerned to
avoid blowing a capability. i mean, there are certain -- what we're trying to do is enable a debate, not cause a result. and there are certainties closures that are -- certain disclosures that are self-excalling. i would -- executing. i would strongly defend we've never done it, and the government doesn't claim we have. >> and just to add on the google data center coverage, the nsa can still under 702 get information about individualized targets or, you know, broader than individualized selectors from google legally through prism through their 702 program. so the, that capability on google's infrastructure still exists to collect data. you know, we described a program where it seemed like they were going after the same piece of data through multiple means, some more legal.
>> i have a question right there. >> um, i'd like to -- i mean, a lot of things, you know, that would have been revealed in this discussion as well as through the revelations of snowden throughout the year have shown that, i mean, these programs have been defended by the executive office all the way down throughout the brass. at the same time, it was brought up that nixon was impeached, you know, for an infraction which was relatively much more minor in comparison. and yet at the same time, you know, there has been no discussion within, you know, the mass media, within the political establishment to even, you know, hint at the level of criminality which, you know, a former president was removed from office for, yet it is currently
going on within our society. and, you know, at the same time it's asserted that we have, you know, a democracy, a democratic process occurring. i just wanted to know if any of you wanted to comment on that. >> well, since i'm the one who mentioned nixon, i want to clarify i did not say and do not believe that a what nixon did was trivial in comparison to what's happening now. what nixon did, the article of impeachment said was that he used national security surveillance tools to spy on and crush enemies. there is absolutely no evidence of that happening now. belief me, if -- believe me, if i saw that, that would be the first story i would be trying to get at. [laughter] unless maybe it was about spying on journalists. so the issue here is not that we have big brother in that abusive sense, it's not the as the city which is trying to control, suppress dissent. and yet it is a set of powers
that exceed anything that orwell could have imagined. and so you have to worry about, you know, what might become of that. and i'm not going to be commenting, i don't think any of us are, about whether so and so broke the law or ought to be prosecuted. that's just not our job. >> we had a question right here. >> thank you very much. for the work that you have done. i'm daily amazed, my wife and i are just so pleased at what you're letting us know. i'm a retired radio journalist from maryland. i interviewed sixth district congressman roscoe bartlett -- he's retired since -- about his repeated volts against the patriot -- votes against the patriot act. and he said the thing that trumped it for him was once you let the government into your house, you'll never get them out. is there any hope that we could turn the clock back and have them not spying on us?
>> i don't know what the outcome's going to be, but i think that it's not, it's not that be some embarrassing newspaper stories and then they'll change their minds. that's not the way our whole set-up works. i mean, we're supposed to belief in checks and balances in terms of market capitalism and in searches of self--- terms of self-governance. what transparency has done is enabled people to do something. so silicon valley, which, by the way, makes a lot of political contributions and has a fair amount of sway both within the executive branch and in congress just in terms of its -- and has the ability, as we've discussed, to make changes that thwart some of the programs if they think they're illegitimate, the transparency has caused many of those big companies to change their policies. as well as their technologies.
it has created an environment in which there are all these privacy start-ups so that you might actually be able to buy e-mail and not pay for it by having them sell your data. it has enabled lawsuits to proceed that were getting thrown out of court before because the plaintiff lacked standing, couldn't prove they were affected. now they can prove they're affected. now for the first time federal courts can decide what the constitutional lines are, proof that congressional oversight was dysfunctional before consists of the fact that the same congress is now proposing and voting for completely different measures in the light of the public disclosures than it was proposing and passing before we knew what was happening. and down the list. i mean, we have lots of checks and balances that aren't the ones you learned in civics class, and they're all operating now because of the information. >> somebody's been patiently waiting back there. >> thank you.
in december, in he's "der spiegel" reported that the nsa intercepts amazon packages and sells spyware on laptops. do you think the story strays too close to the line of revealing nsa techniques? did you hold back on the story or would you have? >> i haven't commented op other people's -- on other people's journalism because i think i'm not the right person for that. i can't play press critic on a story that i'm covering. i'll distinguish that story from the things we've been focusing on. first of all, if you're intercepting a particular package, it's not that they're intercepting all the shipments of all the computers, right? they're not planting chips on every time you order an update. so those are, by definition, targeted operations. generally speaking, we have not been writing about targeted operations. and certainly not -- we don't want to reveal either the method they've using or the identity of the target. in other cases, and this is not
our story, others have written about ways that the nsa has undermined encryption standards, for example. i hi those are harder calls -- i think those are harder calls, but i see a strong case to be made for publishing those. go back to world war ii. japanese used -- i think i won't mix this up. japanese had a secret code they used called purple, and the germans had, was that ultra? but they were home grown. they were used exclusively by the military commands of those enemy countries with whom the united states government was at war. now almost everybody uses the same encryption. good guys, bad guys, you know, my health records, my bank accounts, terrorists, foreign governments use the same thing. if they make your job easier to listen in on your targets by undermining the encryption that all of us use, that raises some pretty big public policy questions even if you can legitimately say you are
revealing a technique that they're using. you're revealing it in order to say is that a good idea. and by the way, revealing it doesn't stop them from doing it again because it's just a matter of technical competence. >> we have a question on this side of the room. right? or no. here. >> hi. does nsa now know aside from what's been revealed in your stories what snowden took? >> i can't know that for sure. it appears from the the variety of interviews they've done, very recent ones, that they're not sure. i think that they have a very strong picture by now of what he had access to, what he could have touched or did touch. i don't think that they know with any confidence what he actually took. if -- they have claimed that he, at some points that he took 1.7 million documents. if that's the case, and i do not know, that is a much larger number than anything he gave any combination of journalists. >> we have a question up here in the front.
>> thank you for taking my question. so you've talked a lot about how much you've sort of self-censored, you know? >> we call it editing, not censor. [laughter] >> censorship for the good, let's say. so you're going to write a story about this aspect of what you know, but you're not going to reveal every aspect of that story. and i get the sense that, like, there are things that you've got documents from snowden, and you're just not going to touch at all. you're just not going to write a story about that at all. so it's commendable that you self-edited, you said. he didn't, obviously. he may not have sent you 1.7 million documents, but i get a sense he sent you quite a lot. certainly more than you're going to publish. what is your view of the fact that he did it, that -- and not just because legally he should have, actually, sent you
nothing, but he felt that there was a public interest in you covering some of that stuff, he sent you clearly more than he should have. trusting that you and your colleagues at the post, and we know it's a big team, and at the other news outlets, "guardian," etc., the this you were all -- that you were all going to be very careful, have good judgment, not get hacked, not put this stuff on the network, not talk to their girlfriend, etc., etc., etc. >> okay, so i'm not his lawyer, adviser, spokesman. i'll just speak to the factual parts here. he did give me and others, two others, a lot more than he actually believed should be published. if he wanted it tock public -- to be public, he's pretty good at computers, he could put it up on the web. he could put it up in ways that could not be taken down around the world and so on. he doesn't want that. it is not uncommon, actually --
what's unique, which i think never has happened before, that someone would turn over this many secrets on the scale of this sensitivity. but it has been routine in my reporting career for people to tell me things that they did not want me to publish and that they that i wouldn't publish for the purpose of enabling me to understand the stuff i was going to publish. suppose this prism document, right? this is the program under which the u.s. government gets information directly from nine u.s. companies, big technology companies like facebook, google, yahoo! and so on. he knew that i would have to read that whole thing in context, that examples would help me be able to understand what was happening and, crucially, what was not happening. so sometimes people tell me things off the record for the purpose of making sure i don't write something that's wrong rather than for letting me put something in that's right. and he also knew that i would be deeply suspicious if he gave me a document that had all kinds of
scissors marks and blacked-out parts. what you're not telling me, does that undermine the basis of the story? there are lots of reasons why people tell you more than what they want you to publish. >> except the government. is it a black mark. >> yeah. >> question back there. >> a question about the journalistic approach to this and the philosophy that you have here. you've been criticized in some places, there was a piece in "the new republic" saying that this is not deserved, that, you know, you were a pass-through -- >> that's a former washington post employee. i read that one. >> a source for an agenda as though there are other kinds of sources. that, you know, if you could speak and say a word about that. but i also want you to know that i have an understanding that that's not what occurred, because when you discussed the muscular slide and the work that went into it, the five to six weeks of just trying to figure out, okay, what is this, clearly
that is reporting that had to occur that as opposed to the wikileaks dump you had to bring expertise to bear to figure out and analyze what was going on. and secondly, if you can also say a word about the traditional journalistic approach that you've adopted to not advocate for a result, to say that, you know, i am a reporter with, you know, the voice from nowhere as it's sometimes called. i'm here to start the debate, not to advocate on behalf of edward snowden. are you limited by that in some ways? thank you. >> okay. you guys should really pitch in here anywhere you want to. agenda, advocacy. first of all, i don't care what my source's motive is. what i care about is understanding the source's motive, because i want to triangulate. i want to verify, authenticate, find context. lots of times, i mean, if i know someone is telling me something because they hate their boss and they're trying to embarrass him,
that doesn't decide whether or not i put it in the paper. i want to get the truth of it, and then i want to talk to the who's, and i want to -- to the boss. and actually it turns out he's got his hand in the cookie jar, whatever it is. i want to know what motive he or she has so that i can cure it in terms of understanding the full context of the story. but many, many great, important stories that whatever your values are that you would think should have been published have come from scurrilous people with scurrilous motives. and as far as whether withholding my own advocacy or my own point of view arms the journalism, i think putting it out there, putting out -- i mean, where i don't have a view from nowhere, and this is the idea that reporters in the traditional way just do a he said/she said, and they don't try to, you know, to try to, i don't know, referee that, that's not at all what we're doing when it comes to facts. we're not saying, you know, joe
says it's white, and jean says it's black. i mean, we're trying to find out and say what it is. i'm not trying to say what you should think of to it. >> right. >> if i could just add to the point on the reporting and dumping documents, you know, so a lot -- i've had a number of journalist friends approach me and tell me they're desperately trying to, you know, contact snowden and get copies of the documents, and they feel like they're, you know, this this hue thing that -- this is this huge thing that landed and they want a piece of. and it's true there's a lot of insights in the documents. you'd be mistaken to think, you know, with the exception of one or two of the early stories like the verizon order where it was clearly, the order itself was in plain english readable and clearly a story, but the reporting is much more like, you know, like wheel of fortune where you have, you know, three letters and a clue. it's about the nsa, and you have to guess the word or the phrase,
right? and a lot of it involves, like, piecing together little bits and pieces, and you get a thread of a, you know, kind of a program name that you suspect is somewhere near the u.s., and you want to kind of link it. and it involves a lot of kind of weeks of work. if you've noticed the time it takes each subsequent story has been kind of slow, slightly growing because the teacher, harder story -- deeper, harder stories are basically harder to piece together. while snowden did collect quite a lot of documents, it wasn't the case that it's a comprehensive map with, you know, index and syllabus and, like, dictionary. it takes quite a lot of reporting, and this is where, you know, the other journalists have come in and really kind of colored and provided context and done sourcing and gotten kind of sources on the record to help fill in all of those missing letters. >> we have time for about two more questions. one right here.
>> thank you. i have a question. i've read virtually every single article that the post wrote on nsa. and what i found out is that it was all one-sided against the nsa. my question is why didn't you do it fair and say let's look at the other side? namely, the threat and how bad is the threat and how hard did nsa work to prevent this threat? >> well, we do have an nsa relater here who's covered the nsa quite a bit. ellen, would you like to talk about that? >> well, i think in terms of the stories i did which have tried to get at the policy debates of, you know, i think i tried to be, i was fair, tried to be fair, strived to be fair and honest about what we're hearing and
reporting. you know, there has been -- and it's a legitimate debate to have as to whether just having this discussion about prism, about section 215 program, encryption methods, cyber offense, whether that in itself harms national security. the extent to which it does, you know, i think is difficult to discern. >> i would just, this is an extraordinary volume of reporting by us and everyone else on threat material. north korea missile launches and nuclear weapons development and terrorist plots and, i mean, there's a huge volume of that and has been at an accelerated pace since 9/11. but, you know, dating from the cold war. it has dominated coverage of national security parties.
and what of, you know, the biggest part of the word "news" is new, and what is new is a lot of inside material about the u.s. response, about u.s. surveillance, about the nsa that we didn't know before. so what i'm doing now is certainly focusing on that. but if you look at the whole package of reporting in "the washington post" and don't think you're seeing threat information about dangerous things happening in the world, then, you know, i'd be happy to direct you to several articles a day. >> last one. we have time for one more question. take one right here. this man. quite patient. >> thank you. i think the key is to whether or not you have warrants. i don't see any reason or any benefit for having a priority of gathering of data. i understand and believe that you can get information by analyzing data, but i don't see why you have to do it without a warrant. so that's really one question. the other question is who in the
government has been held accountable? one of your panelists had made a comment about keeping people accountable. i'd like to know who was accountable, has been held accountable. >> first of all, to your question about warrants, you know, that is one of the big points of contention and has been through the focus of lawsuits, constitutional, about the constitutional the city of some of these programs -- constitutionality of some of these programs. the government believes that when you're collecting so-called metadata, the phone numbers or the call durations and call times but not the actual content of the conversation, then taking that, collecting that does not require a warrant because it is not seen as sensitive as actually hearing the words of a conversation. we have done reporting as well about how, you know, just collecting that sort of metadata
can, you know, in large quantities can have the potential to disclose all sorts of things about who we are as people, our habits, where we, you know, where we shop, what our religion is, what our preferences are and who we might visit at night when our spouses don't know. anyway -- [laughter] those are, you know, that is one reason why some people feel that metadata is actually deserves more protection than just, you know, certainly shouldn't just be collected on a vast scale as a way government had been doing without a warrant. holding accountable the administration has said repeatedly that it has not found, you know, any willful abuse of the authorities by the intelligence community, by the nsa. that when they've made mistakes, and they have made mistakes, and
when there have been compliance violations, and there have been serious ones, those have been reported and corrected. and that in one level of accountability, i guess with, the question is how accountable are they to the public for just the overall of just, you know, the balancing of the intrusiveness versus the benefit to national security, that level of transparency has, so key to accountability, and we haven't had that. we're only starting to see a little bit of it now which has led to efforts by the administration to rein in a little. besides obama saying he wants to end bulk collection, he's also talking about, he's ordered that there be public advocates now before the foreign intelligence surveillance court which traditionally hears only from the government on surveillance
issues. he wants to have advocates to give sort of the public interest side of surveillance issues. he's ordered that there be stronger privacy protections more foreigners whose data is incidentally collected and that collection on dozens of heads of state be halted. a lot of that was in reaction to some of these stories about, you know, eavesdropping on angela merkel. so that's, you know, some measure of accountability i guess you could say. but, you know, it certainly doesn't go as far as some would like, some reformers who want to see not just an end to the nsa's collection of phone metadata, but an end to all bulk collection by the intelligence community. they'd like to see a warrant requirement for searches of americans' communications in the program called prism. they'd like to see greater disclose enough of -- disclosure
of what the other bulk collections are and greater transparency around the overseas collection which we're only now starting to learn a little bit more about. >> clearly, we could continue talking for a long time. there seems to be still many questions, and you can fill out those cards, again, with a question. we will answer those online after this event. i really would hope that you all continue to talk about this issue and, please, join me in thanking bart gellman, ellen nakashima, ashkan soltani and greg timberg for really letting us walk through -- and also to marty baron who is a huge supporter of what was an enormous, difficult, hard and you saw the nuts and bolts of how difficult this reporting was over the last year and letting barton